On the evening of Wednesday, Oct. 8, Mount Saint Mary’s University’s Department of Visual and Performing Arts presented a mid-semester instrumental ensemble concert featuring both the wind ensemble and the lab bands in Knott Auditorium. The lights dimmed down around 7:30 p.m., the excited audience quieted down and the band finished warming up. Once everyone was perfectly in tune, Dr. Mark Carlson introduced his students and the night kicked off without a hitch.
The band started with a rousing selection called Americans We – which was written in 1929 by Henry Fillmore – and it effectively showcased each instrumental section of the group. It entranced the audience and the concert continued with a variety of other pieces. To highlight a few; a more modern selection (written in 2000 by Eric Whitacre) by the name of October captivated the audience with frequent crescendos and pianissimos, and a crowd favorite: the Mount Alma Mater (2006) by Andrew Rosenfeld engaged the crowd on a personal level.
The tone went from solemn to soothing and then picked back up, at times, with a fast-paced march. These were punctuated by applause from the audience as well as witty comments and explanations from Dr. Carlson.
He briefly discussed the philosophies of Voltaire and the inspirations of Bernstein in regards to the “playlist” for the evening. This intellectual commentary brought light to the ideas behind each song. He provided insight in order to convey the importance and relevance of each piece. This was helpful to the many students taking Modernity as a class, who were there to analyze and reflect on the concert as an assignment.
One student, Matt Smith, expressed that “the concert showed a lot of growth. There was a noticeable difference in the fullness of sound from the wind ensemble, and the lab bands sounded great too. You could really tell they put a lot of work into their performances.”
Another student, Danielle Harbaugh shared that “I really enjoyed the wind ensemble. It was an interesting concert because of all the different genres and composers that the bands explored. It was a nice way to spend my Wednesday night and a good opportunity to be exposed to music I usually wouldn’t listen to on my own.”
There was a brief intermission and the second half of the show introduced the lab bands which are student group projects. The lab bands provided a different vibe with more well-known songs, some of which were hits from the 1990’s. Rivers Cuomo’s Buddy Holly and Noel Hogan and Dolores O’Riordan’s Linger were among the crowd favorites. The lab bands provided more of a specific showcase regarding the individual talent of respective students and the amount of thought put into each act.
Leeza Faraone, another audience member particularly enjoyed the lab bands and wanted to share some praise: “The lab bands were so fun to watch. They provided a consistent energy for the audience to feed off of. It was cool to see the musicians let loose a little bit. I really enjoy supporting the music department here at the Mount.”
The variety of instruments and the variety of pieces provided during this concert showed versatility. The Department of Visual and Performing Arts will have other concerts througout the rest of this year.